Book Review: THE SCORPION RULES by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules has potential, but doesn’t quite reach it

I really didn’t know what to expect from reading The Scorpion Rules, and now, after having read it, I really don’t know what to make of it. Well, I suppose I do in the fact that I can’t say that I loved it, but I can’t say that I hated it, either. The story is unique, and the characters are a bit unusual in personality and titles. But there was something about it that didn’t click with me at times. Yet, there were other times when I felt some emotion for the circumstances that some of the characters went through.

If I sound confusing, it’s because I’m kind of confused.

Warning: Contains mild spoilers

Let me start by saying that it’s somewhat important to read the overview/synopsis of the book, either from somewhere online or the back of the book. I normally don’t bother, but with this one, kind of explains certain terminology that isn’t explained when you start reading it. You’ll have to know the main character, Greta, from there as well, as she’s the one telling the story. Luckily, the author allows the protagonist to explain the other supporting characters, her cohorts that she was basically raised with.

the-scorpion-rulesAnyway, Greta Gustafsen Stuart is among the Children of Peace living in the North American Precepture, one of many small, isolated schools around the world that house the Children. The Children of Peace are the children of rulers, kings, queens, presidents, and generals: Those in command of a country – those who are able to declare war against another. The Children of Peace don’t really consider themselves as hostages, but they are. They are held to keep the peace, because if one country declares war on another, that country’s Child of Peace is put to death as a sacrifice for the declaration.

Normally, these Children of Peace are brought in and are taught to accept these terms. When Elian Palnik shows up as a new hostage, he’s anything but accepting of these terms, and his stubbornness affects them all. Greta is drawn to him in a way, feeling the need to protect him.

But when their ruling countries decide that war is no longer avoidable, Greta and Elian are caught in the crossfire. It not only affects the two, but all that are in the Precepture.

So yes, it sounds interesting. However, the way the story was written is not as simple as one would consider a “YA” novel to be. Maybe that’s a good thing, but all the same, I found myself wondering what on earth I was reading, and hoping that if I continued reading it, all would explain itself. Luckily, most of it did. But that didn’t mean I liked it, at least not on a personal level.

The way the story is told felt a bit disjointed or basically non-cohesive in the narrating. But when it came to some of the scenes that did flow, it did grip you. And there were scenes that were slightly humorous, but not in a way that was outright comedic. You might chuckle here and there, but I was more often just trying to find out what was going on and what was going to happen to these characters.

The author also creates a different type of romance for the protagonist, and for those looking for something other than girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, etc., you might like this one. It’s not your traditional romance, but even this to me felt off… or inconclusive in a way. But maybe that’s what the author wants.

Even the main antagonist of the story couldn’t be really decided. In this story, the lines are blurred as to who’s really the evil one, but it made sense for this book. It forces us to question what makes one evil and what makes one good. The A.I.s in the story can be considered so, but what if their main purpose was to keep the peace so that humans don’t wipe themselves off the face of the Earth?

And yes, there are A.I.s, and they play a very important part in all that’s going on in this futuristic dystopian world. But I don’t want to say much more than that.

As I think more and more about this book, I find myself frustrated with it and intrigued to read more. I’m not happy with that idea, because, like I said, I don’t love it. At least not the overall story. But there are a couple of characters that I’m interested in finding out what happens to them.

My letter grade rating: C+

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